After a standout statistical senior season, is Western Kentucky wide receiver Jerreth Sterns primed for similar success at the 2022 NFL Draft? He shined at the Shrine Bowl but was snubbed by the NFL Combine. But what does Sterns’ scouting report show about his potential to star on Sundays?
Jerreth Sterns NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Western Kentucky
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’7 3/8″
- Weight: 183 pounds
- Wingspan: 72 5/8″
- Arm: 30 1/8″
- Hand: 9″
Jerreth Sterns Scouting Report
Every NFL Draft cycle in recent years feels like it has contained an excellent wide receiver class. This year is no different, with every pass catcher archetype catered for. No matter what you need a receiver to do for your offense, it’s likely that you can find a contributor somewhere between Day 1 and well into Day 3.
Day 3 is likely where you’ll find some later-round gold like Western Kentucky WR Sterns. Despite his insanely successful senior season for the Hilltoppers, some areas for improvement and limitations within his scouting report are likely to be significant for some NFL teams to overlook. However, there’s plenty to love, too. Let’s start there.
As a pure pass catcher, Sterns offers some alluring upside. The Western Kentucky WR showcases impressive technique, extending to secure catches rather than simply allowing them into his frame. He demonstrates excellent ball-tracking ability. Furthermore, he has shown ability to play stronger than his size coming across the middle of the field and withstanding contact to maintain possession. Concentration drops are no issue.
Separation, route-running savvy, and special-teams experience
Sterns has also showcased the ability to create separation through route-running savvy. While he doesn’t possess the speed of some of the “track star” pass catchers in the class, he has enough to cause an issue. More importantly, Sterns has the burst to allow him to gain a yard step on his opponent. He makes certain elements, like slant routes, look simple and easy. Meanwhile, he possesses the fluidity of movement to sharply break out of his route.
While there are some limits to his after-the-catch effectiveness, one of the things I noticed while compiling Sterns’ scouting report was how he carries the ball after the catch. He secures the ball and runs very similar to how a running back does. As a result, there were zero examples of him coughing up the ball regardless of how hard the contact was.
Sterns would suit an NFL offense that could manufacture touches for him. His predominant use is — and will be — out of the slot. Western Kentucky also utilizes him on screen plays and in motion, allowing him to use his speed around the outside of the formation. With additional special-teams experience as a punt returner, Sterns could make an impact in multiple ways for an NFL team as a rotational offensive weapon.
Areas for improvement
Despite his sensational production for Western Kentucky this season, Sterns’ NFL Combine snub could point to him being overlooked in the draft process. We know that players who weren’t invited to Indianapolis make it to the league every year. However, we also know that there can be reasons why they weren’t invited.
For Sterns, the biggest issue from his NFL Draft scouting report is his size. At 5’7 3/8″, there’s no escaping that he’s small for NFL standards. It’s worth pointing out that there’s no lack of fight or competitive toughness in the Western Kentucky WR. He’ll happily contest for a 50/50 ball regardless of the size of his opponent.
Still, that doesn’t stop it from being an issue at the NFL level. Stern’s usage will be limited, his role restricted. With a premium on versatility, that will undoubtedly impact his NFL stock. His size impacts his physicality, which means he doesn’t routinely offer much value in run blocking. While he has shown to maintain possession across the middle of the field, there were examples where contact jolted the ball from his hands in contested situations.
Finally, Sterns doesn’t possess elite after-the-catch ability. As a result of his lack of physicality, he doesn’t demonstrate much in terms of contact balance. While there are some nice examples of him cutting to extend plays, this isn’t routinely demonstrated during the games studied.
Sterns’ Player Profile
Sport is very much the family business if your surname is Sterns. James Sterns was a basketball player for Baylor. The majority of his six children have played collegiate sports at some level or another. Jordan Sterns played safety at Oklahoma State before landing with the Kansas City Chiefs. Caden Sterns put the surname back at the pinnacle of the sport when the Denver Broncos selected him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Can Jerreth follow in the family footsteps? He’s made a name for himself this season following his transfer to Western Kentucky. The diminutive wide receiver’s football journey had relatively humble beginnings. That’s not to say he wasn’t successful at the high school level, however.
Playing for former NFL QB Jon Kitna at Waxahachie High School, Sterns was the District 8-6A Offensive Sophomore of the Year. Additionally, he achieved Academic All-District honors in each of his four seasons. A productive playmaker on both sides of the ball, he secured 18 touchdowns during his senior season while snagging 8 interceptions as a defensive back.
However, his success didn’t translate to the recruiting trail. A two-star “athlete,” Sterns didn’t crack 247 Sport’s Top 2000 nationally. However, his academic prowess earned him offers from Army and Princeton, with the versatile prospect committing to the Black Knights in October 2017. By February 2018, he’d rescinded his commitment to Army and opted to suit up for the Houston Baptist University Huskies in the FCS.
Sterns’ college career
Sterns made an immediate and devastating impact on the FCS level for Houston Baptist. During his freshman season, he tallied three 100+ yard games against Lamar, Central Arkansas, and Southeastern Louisiana. Living up to his “athlete” recruiting moniker, he threw a 42-yard touchdown against the Lions. He also added a rushing score during the 2018 season, while adding punt returner to his résumé.
Having set a school-record 68 catches during a season where he tallied 684 receiving yards and 6 total touchdowns, Sterns continued to dominate as a sophomore. With 105 receptions, he recorded 833 yards and 9 touchdowns. In the game with Lamar, he tied a single-game school record with 3 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he once again found the end zone on the ground (Southeastern Louisiana) and through the air (Northwestern State).
Sterns’ NFL Draft ascension at Western Kentucky
Through the disruption of the 2020 college football season, Houston Baptist played just four games. However, they allowed Sterns to earn national recognition with some matchups against FBS opposition. In half of those games, he tallied 100+ yards (Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech). Against Louisiana Tech, he secured 3 touchdowns. He finished the season with 454 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging over 100 yards per game.
With the departure of offensive coordinator Zach Kitley, a large chunk of the Houston Baptist offense entered the transfer portal ahead of the 2021 season. As Sterns told SportsSpectrum.com, “it was a huge risk, [was] possible not getting a scholarship offer. To this day, I would say this move is one of the best decisions I made in my life.”
The move to Western Kentucky proved exceptionally successful for the WR. Sterns tallied 10 100+yard games, six 170+ yard games, and against Old Dominion, became only the second player in program history to hit over 200 yards in a career game. Leading the nation with 150 receptions, 1,902 receiving yards, and 17 receiving touchdowns, he became only the third receiver to achieve the trifecta since 2000.
A litany of individual honors included the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award. Having declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, Sterns earned an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl, where Pro Football Network’s team on the ground raved about “opponents struggling to cover him” and him making “a number of terrific catches.” However, a snub from the NFL Combine shrouds Sterns’ NFL Draft outlook in mystery.